By Lágbénró Oládipo
SIR: It’s really unfortunate that the federal government banned Twitter. As the Nile was to Ancient Egypt (commerce, agriculture, travel, etc. hinged on the Nile), so is Twitter to Nigeria’s feeble-kneed economy. Significant economic activities happen on Twitter. In a nation with a troubling rate of youth employment, that’s a good thing; and taking away such a platform that fills young Nigerians with the courage to attack the day with renewed hope is as ridiculous as ridiculous can get.
Amidst all of the ongoing madness, I have been thinking about one question: what will happen to the activists of today when they become leaders tomorrow? Put differently, what will happen to the likes of, say, Falz, Mr. Macaroni, FEMCO ladies, etc. when they get the chance to lead?
I ask this question as a Nigerian with a decent sense of our history, and in light of the recent Twitter ban midwifed by Lai Muhammed, the minister of information and culture. Lai Muhammed was a democrat through and through. As a member of NADECO, he nursed a vision of a Nigeria that works for everyone. Today, nothing personifies the failure of Buhari’s Nigeria more than that individual.
There was also KáyÍdé Fáy¹mí, governor of Èkìtì State. One of Fáy¹mí’s tasks in the fight against dictatorship was managing Radio Kudirat, a pirate radio station that sensitized Nigerians and the world on the dangers of Sani Abacha. Today’s Fáy¹mí will not utter a word about Twitter ban.
The examples of activists-turned-Mephistopheles are numerous. The consensus among experts is that power impairs the human brain. A group of Canadian researchers, for example, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, discovered how power makes even the best of humans do terrible things. According to them, when people get power, the part of the human brain that triggers empathic behaviours starts malfunctioning, its capacity starts declining. So, even if you give power to a saint, she/he will likely become a Lucifer, over time.
Thankfully, there is hope. When people talk about ‘saner climes,’ it’s not because the said climes are perfect. They are ‘saner’ because they have what we don’t have: strong institutions. Institutions that check the excesses of leaders with over-bloated sense of being. We need similar institutions in Nigeria. At the least, we need a truly independent judiciary, one that can give effect to laws courageously, without fear. We need a legislature that is bold enough to call out the excesses of the executive. We need an executive that understands that leadership is service and service comes before politics. We can start making this our reality by holding our leaders accountable.
We need strong institutions. This is the only way today’s Falz, Mr. Macaroni, FEMCO ladies, etc. will not become the Lai Muhammeds, Fáy¹mís, and co. of tomorrow.
Áwe´, `Oyo´ State.